There are so many lessons to be learned when traveling to foreign countries, in particular, developing countries. I wrote last week about traveling for the first time as the mother of (and with) young children to Nicaragua. I am still here in Nicaragua as I type this and there is still profound perspective around every unbaby-proofed corner.
The second lesson that is hitting me hard is this: Let go and go with the wind.
The wind here blows in all directions, sometimes all at once. We were evicted from the place we planned to stay for the duration of our trip partly because of a veracious wind storm that ripped out a couple of window screens. The main reason we were evicted, was because the owner didn’t understand (nor could he tolerate) children. Although for months he led us to believe otherwise. After my daughter wet the bed (which we’d later discover was because of a UTI) along with other realitively minor infractions considering the environment, like not shutting the windows properly to prevent his curtains from be whipped by the wind, he let us know that we were no longer welcome on the 4th day of our 14-day trip. We were understandably upset by this development as my husband spent months planning our trip and corresponding with the owner to insure the safety and proper environment for our young family. Without notice, at 7am one morning, we were suddenly without lodging in a third world country with two small children and lots of luggage.
We railed against the situation and the owner. We vented and called him names and I wrote a review for his place of business and then edited it a dozen times. We were mad for being blind-sided. We were mad because our much-anticipated vacation wasn’t turning out as we’d hoped.
Luckily, there was space available at an excellent resort community that had great amenities including air-conditioning. We didn’t choose this location from the start because on the top of our checklist of accommodations, we wanted a stunning view, immediate beach access and someone to cook most (if not all) of meals. Although this place has a great view, it did not offer the other two things. This ordeal stole an entire day of our vacation by having to relocate and spend time shopping for food and necessities. Not a fun day with two cranky, sweaty, napless toddlers. To add to the situation, the Nicaraguan woman we hired to help with our children during days up and quit in the middle of our shopping trip because she had problems at home. At some point later this day, I said to my husband in a moment of frustration: “I’m not having fun anymore!”
It was true. I was exhausted. Things weren’t looking good in the near-term future. All I wanted to do was rest and take a break from all the work and worry. In spite this, I picked up my frustrated, disappointed, tired-ass and took my kids to the pool.
Within 10 minutes of being there, I met the owner of the only yoga studio in the small town of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. Within 20 minutes of meeting her, our vacation would turn around significantly. The next morning, I went to my first yoga practice in two weeks at her studio. While there, on my mat, I would hear this lesson with crushing clarity: Let go and trust the wind.
I have said before that yoga is my church. It is where I check-in with myself. It is where I become the best version of me, and it is where I hear God speak, most clearly. As I sat there on my mat waiting to begin, I started to focus on my breath and become present. It was an open-air studio on the second floor and the breeze blew lightly through.
I lifted my gaze to watch a butterfly struggling against a sheer, black screen. It struggled, fluttering it’s yellow and black wings over and over again into a barrier it could not see. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew it around the screen into the exact direction it wanted to go. In that instant, I knew what I came to Nicaragua to learn more profoundly.
When life isn’t working out the way you planned; when you get kicked out your accommodations (in part because of a wind storm) and then find yourself on the streets of a third world country with two cranky toddlers, four bags of luggage and nowhere to go; trust, and follow the wind. Stop struggling against the Universe, stop arguing with reality, stop putting energy where there are no solutions or peace or love; stop fighting the obstacles in your path. Go with wind and trust that God will be there waiting to lift you around the screens you cannot see, toward the place where the Yoga teacher is waiting; to a better, brighter space where you can fly where you want to go without struggle.
From that moment on, our vacation got better and better. Since we were not beholden to this snake-oil salesman and his place, we were free to move about, wherever. Because of this, we are now settled into a beautiful place on the most pristine white sand beach in Nicaragua called Coco which is just 45 minutes outside of San Juan Del Sur . Last night, we watched the most dramatic, stunning, outrageous sunset of our lives. Afterward, my little family of four walked on a the soft sand beach laughing, watching tiny crabs scurry about while the horizon over the ocean blazed on in fiery red-orange. My 3-year-old threw her arms out wide and exclaimed, “Everything is so beautiful!”
She was so right. It was beyond beautiful. I wanted to capture it with my new camera but no digital photograph would contain what we were feeling, seeing and experiencing as a family. We were alone, on a remote corner of the world looking into the dying light of day, gazing up at a crisp sliver of a moon and a sky beginning to dust itself with bright, glittering stars. It is a moment my husband and I will never forget and would never have had, had we held on to our disappointments and let that be our guide instead of being, “…Like a feather on the breath of God.’
Playa El Coco, Nicaragua, January 2013